Two exciting articles written by Bettina Arndt are published online on The Age website today bringing vital news for divorced fathers.
Here is the link to the main article – Empty days, lonely nights
There is also a news story – Movement on father’s overnight access – The Age (article has been removed)
Please circulate this notices as widely as possible using social media, twitter and face book. We want the main story to be more prominently displayed on the website and this requires more reader response – clicks and likes and tweets. I strongly encourage you to write comments to the newspaper and online websites and also to call local talk-back radio.
As a matter of urgency please do this today because such stories only have a short news cycle and it is critical that as many divorced fathers as possible as well as family lawyers and others working in the family law system are reached.
You can help achieve real change for fathers and their young children by making sure this story makes a very big splash.
Here is a brief summary of the main issues:
Key family law organizations across Australia are revising their policies on care of infants and toddlers that stop most divorced fathers from having their children stay overnight.
This follows the publication in February of an academic paper (attached) endorsed by 110 leading international experts that challenges these policies.
The report, “Social Science and Parenting Plans for Young Children: A consensus report” is highly critical of the research underpinning current policy, including an Australian study that concluded any regular overnight care by fathers was damaging to infants and toddlers.
The experts criticize the 2010 study – led by child psychologist Jennifer McIntosh – for the way data in the study was collected and analysed, saying the study’s findings should not have been used as a platform for developing public policy in this area.
The expert paper concludes infants commonly develop attachment relationships with more than one caregiver and that in normal circumstances children are likely to do better if they have some overnight contact with both parents.
It says depriving young children the opportunity to stay overnight with their fathers could compromise the development of father-child relationships.
Further criticisms of the McIntosh study and the way it has been used are laid out in another recently published paper written by psychology professor Linda Nielsen. (attached)
There are signs the new consensus paper could affect current policies. Diana Bryant, the Chief Justice of the Family Court, says she expects her Court’s personnel, including judges, family consultants and experts to be familiar with current research, including recent developments regarding overnight care.
Key organizations such as the Australian Association for Infant Mental Health are revising their policies regarding overnight care of infants, as are many of the Family Relationship Centres (FRCs) offering the compulsory mediation required prior to Family Court proceedings. (If you know any psychologists please ask them to contact The Australian Psychology Society and ask them why they are refusing to revise their policies. Jennifer McIntosh is still the lead author of their published policies on overnight care of infants after divorce.)